The Nebraska Cornhuskers turned in their most dominating performance on defense all season long against Purdue on Saturday en route to a 44-7 blowout win against the Boilermakers. The Huskers didn’t allow a score until the last minute of the game, and for the first time all season, gave up less than ten points and 300 yards of total offense.
Taylor Martinez sat out a third straight game with a nagging turf toe injury, and Tommy Armstrong Jr. started his third game in his absence. Armstrong struggled mightily as he only went 6-of-18 for 43 yards and threw three interceptions. Senior Ron Kellogg III also played and was much more effective against Purdue, throwing for a touchdown on 10-of-13 passing for 141 yards.
The offense was led by another outstanding performance by running back Ameer Abdullah, who had his fifth 100-yard game on the season with 126 yards on 20 carries to go along with a touchdown. The Huskers rushed for 251 yards total, with Imani Cross adding 56 yards and two touchdowns and Terrell Newby rushing for 61 yards on 10 carries.
The Huskers defense dominated the Boilermakers as they didn’t allow Purdue’s freshman quarterback Danny Etling to get anything going. Etling was 14-of-25 for 184 yards an threw an interception to LeRoy Alexander. Etling was sacked five times, which was a season high for the struggling Huskers defense. Purdue finished with only 216 total yards and were held to just 32 yards rushing.
And while the Boilermakers have only won one game this season, and doesn’t necessarily have a great offense, it’s still a huge step for the Huskers, whose defensive struggles and shortcomings this season have been very well documented. But Nebraska is beginning to find it’s groove on the defensive side of the ball, as it has held back-to-back Big Ten opponents to under 20 points after giving up 20 or more to the likes of Wyoming and South Dakota State. The defense is also showing it is capable of forcing turnovers, as the Huskers have intercepted passes in consecutive games.
The Huskers have another bye week this next weekend, giving them an extra week of preparation for Minnesota. The second bye week will be beneficial for the Huskers because Martinez will have another week to recuperate and be ready to go against the Golden Gophers. It will also allow the defense to hammer out some of the kinks to keep getting better as they will face a Minnesota offense capable of scoring points.